Stepover, double stepover, drag back, Cruyff turn…….all on the edge of his own 18 yard box with Alex shouting “DEKLAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!” and everyone else begging him to pass it. That’s how he played the game. Absolutely amazing and infuriating at the same time. He had more moves than a chess board and if he wasn’t so blonde you’d swear he was Brazilian. But then again when he opened his mouth, he was definitely blonde. 

Right foot, left foot, volley, half volley, in the air or on the ground……he could do it all. Sometimes I think it was to his detriment because he was so eager to do well. Desperate to impress and do the right thing for the team, he took on too much responsibility to razzle at times and I’d say “Deks just pass it”. Then he’d get the ball, beat 2 players and stick it in the top bin and we’d all smile and think ‘do what you want bud’.

He was the best team mate you could ask for in every sense. Hilarious in the changing room, he was the joker and the butt of the jokes. But he couldn’t care less who the joke was on, as long as everyone was laughing. Deks and Randall would be talking, singing, jumping around and the older lads like Paddy, Kossie and Daanwould be saying “look at these 2…..what are we dealing with here? Dumb and dumber!!!!”. They were a brilliant double act.

He loved training and was always the hardest working. Just pure enthusiasm and joy for the game. He wanted the ball at all times and anywhere on the park. People don’t realise how brave that is. He never, ever hid on the park. Courage and bravery are often attributed to the physical side of the game and although he enjoyed the physical contact it wasn’t necessarily his game. He showed his courage by demanding the ball at all times, in any situation and at any time of the game. I’d have Dekkers right next to me in the trenches at all times because he’d never shirk it, never go missing. He’d puff his chest out and take on all comers. Just give him the ball.

Off course Robbo brought us both to the club from Sutherland Sharks. We had 6 phenomenal years together helping the club get from State League 2 (now NPL4) to NPL1 in 5 seasons. So many victoriescelebrations and trophies won. But one memory that we always laughed about was a half time team talk that Robbo gave. He was furious with our first half performance, and clearly flustered, he finished with “now don’t go out there like cowboys with a chip on your shoulder!!!”. Dekkers and I were sat next to each other and our shoulders started going but we managed to contain ourselves until we got out onto the pitch. He turned and looked at me with his hands out and we just lost it. We repeated that to each other for years……still none the wiser what he was trying to say. We thought Robbo would tell us one day.

Hakoah was the club where we all came together. It’s amazing what football can give us. From the moment Barry Walker met Deks he loved him and over the years he became Barry’s second son. When Brad came home from the U.S. he joined us and they became brothers. Sparky played at the club for a season and a half but fell in love with him that much they moved in together… did Tezza. Their bromance had Randall in a right jealous state. Robbo and Alex saw him as part of their family and they would do anything for him. I know Katzy would run to end of the earth for him also.

And Dekkers would do absolutely anything thing for us. In fact he would do anything for anyone because he was so generous and giving. And everyone who played with him or helped run the club saw him as the wonderful, vibrant young man he was. An absolute joy to be around.

love him and miss him so much already. I’d love to hug him in that changing room again and tell him to “keep it simple”. He wouldn’t listen….but he’d hug me back.

He’ll always be my wee brother.


Photo credit: Getty Images – Brendon Thorne